Ultra-fast broadband will be installed in homes on Stanford campus

Chalk one up for the little guy.

Google has selected local Internet provider Sonic.net as a partner for its high-profile project to deliver ultra-fast broadband services to a select few homes in the South Bay.

Sonic.net will provide customer service and perform on-site installations for the fiber optic broadband network that Google is building for residential homes at Stanford University.

The partnership is the latest triumph for the Santa Rosa-based company, which has made the nearly unparalleled transformation from a small dial-up Internet provider into a telecommunication company capable of developing its own broadband DSL services.

"We're thrilled," said Dane Jasper, co-founder and chief executive of Sonic.net. "They are a really bright and dynamic group of folks at Google who are doing some exciting things."

In February, Google surprised the tech world by announcing it planned to build a residential network capable of delivering Internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second -- more than 100 times faster than the average U.S. connection. Google's plan is to build a fiber-to-the-home network for as many as 500,000 people in at least one U.S. city.

The Stanford network is a pilot project for that larger effort, and will provide fiber access to about 850 faculty and staff-owned homes on campus.

Currently, no residential customer has use for that level of speed, according to industry analysts. But Google said deploying the technology would spur innovation as developers designed new products and services to utilize the blazing-fast access.

City officials around the country, including in Petaluma and Santa Rosa, responded to Google's February announcement by lobbying the Internet giant to build the large-scale network in their communities. Google is expected to announce the winning city in the coming days.

Sonic.net is a relatively small broadband provider with about 30,600 residential, business and wholesale customers. Yet it has built a national reputation for providing exceptional customer service, said Lee Ratliff, a Dallas-based analyst with iSuppli, a market research firm.

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